Trying to imagine what the New York Giants new wideout duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall will bring to the table in 2017.
The New York Giants passing game should look a whole lot more dangerous in 2017.
At least Giants fans want to see it that way.
Over the past three seasons, Beckham has joined Antonio Brown and Julio Jones has one of the top three receivers football has to offer, simultaneously becoming of the game’s biggest and polarizing stars.
Marshall, meanwhile, has made his mark in the league for 11 years now. He’s long been considered as one of the top pass-catchers, despite the fact that he’s played with quality to average quarterbacks, ranging from Jay Cutler (in Denver and Chicago) to Kyle Orton to Chad Henne to Jake Plummer to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Now he’ll have a two-time Super Bowl winner and two-time Super Bowl MVP throwing to him in Eli Manning. Not only will he be the best quarterback to throw balls his way, but he’s also someone who has enough experience, knowledge and understanding to relate to Marshall.
Marshall has made six Pro Bowls, was a First Team All-Pro (2012), co-led the league in touchdown catches in 2015 with Doug Baldwin and Allen Robinson and has produced eight 1,000 receiving-yard seasons in 11 years. That goes along with six 100-catch seasons and four seasons where he caught double-digit touchdown receptions.
The man has been a No. 1 receiver for four different teams (Broncos, Bears, Jets, Dolphins) throughout his underrated career and understands the responsibility that holds.
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He’ll be relinquishing that responsibility to his new partner in Beckham, the wild, intriguing and forever-entertaining character that the New York City media and fan base can’t get enough of — for better or worse.
We all know what the two-team Second-Team All-Pro brings to the table but pairing him with Marshall will easily create one of the finest wide receiver tandems in the game. The addition will also give the up-and-down Manning another terrific target to throw to.
When I think about the best WR duos in NFL history like Marvin Harrison-Reggie Wayne, Isaac Bruce-Torry Holt, Mark Duper-Mark Clayton, Cris Carter-Randy Moss, Lynn Swann-John Stallworth and Jerry Rice-John Taylor, Beckham and Marshall have a chance over the next two years to maybe (a big maybe, partially because of Marshall’s age and mileage) be in that mix one day.
All the double-teams and extra attention from safeties Beckham receives on an every down basis will lessen due to the presence of Marshall. That’s how these things usually work.
When you have two lethal weapons on the field, most defenses like to shift their focus and coverage on one player and take them out of the equation, while the other player will have more opportunities to make plays and become a bigger factor.
When it comes to a defense’s game plan when going up against two outstanding offensive players, the approach is better to let just one player kill you than to let two hurt you.
That’s the dilemma opposing secondaries are going to face when going against two of the best wideouts in the business.
With a non-existent running game in 2016 (29th) and showing no signs of having a decent one in 2017, the offense is looking more like they will have to lean more heavily on the passing game and the turnover-prone Manning.
What led the Giants to 10 wins and a playoff appearance last year was the play of their outstanding secondary and respectable downfield game. Marshall, with his career 12.8 yards per catch average, will not only be a big play threat but will be a handful in red-zone situations due to his size and physical strength
With defenses most likely to focus less on Beckham because of the fear of Marshall burning them, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see a 100 reception-1,500 receiving yards-15 TD catch season for the fourth-year wideout.
Beckham and Marshall are gonna have some stiff competition for “Best WR Combo” with the likes of the Jordy Nelson-Randall Cobb, Mike Evans-DeSean Jackson, Amari Cooper-Michael Crabtree and the Demaryius Thomas-Emmanuel Sanders coming at them.
But I believe Marshall and Beckham can hold them all off because they both have excellent size, position themselves well when the ball is in the air, possess strong hands and both seem to want this new partnership to succeed.
New York football fans better be prepared to see the best Giants wide receiver group since the early-2000s of Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard and Joe Jurevicius. Or maybe since the Toomer-Plaxico Burress-Jeremy Shockley core in the 2007 Super Bowl winning season.
Either way, keep your eyes on this year’s bunch.
With Victor Cruz gone (now playing for the Chicago Bears) and No. 3 wideout Sterling Shepard possibly missing some time, I look forward to watching the Beckham-Marshall combination become a scary proposition for defenses and see how far they can carry the Giants in the competitive NFC East division and always-deep NFC conference.